The Novels of Jane Austen by J.A. Horrocks
Publication Dates of Jane Austen's Novels
1811 - Sense & Sensibility
This novel began in 1795-6 as 'Elinor & Marianne', rewritten and renamed as 'Sense & Sensibility' in 1797-8, with later revision in 1809.
1813 - Pride & Prejudice
Written in 1797 as 'First Impressions', rewritten and renamed in 1809.
1814 - Mansfield Park
Jane began writing this in 1811.
1816 - Emma
Writing began in 1814.
1818 - Northanger Abbey
This novel began life as 'Susan' in 1798 therefore one of Jane earliest works. Jane sold it in 1803 to the publisher Richard Crosby, with no sales Jane eventually bought it back in 1816, renamed it 'Northanger Abbey' and finally had it published in 1818.
1818 - Persuasion
Writing began in 1815.
1871 - The Watsons
1871 - Lady Susan
The full text, edited from the manuscript by R.W. Chapman, and published as 'Fragment of a Novel'. Writing began and ended in 1817.
At the end of this blog I have listed the novels in order of writing.
Jane Austen began writing when she was a young girl, she would write as avidly as she read and her first works she recorded in the rather grand sounding Volume The First, Volume The Second and Volume The Third. These three pieces of work are often referred to as Juvenilia, the writings of a young teenager. The earliest works most probably date from when Jane left Abbey House school in Reading in 1787, Jane being 11 or 12 at that time.
SENSE & SENSIBILITY
While in her twentieth year Jane Austen began writing 'Elinor & Marianne' telling the story of the Dashwood sisters through a series of letters, this would later develop into the novel 'Sense & Sensibility' and would be finally published in1811 under the pseudonym 'A Lady'. Jane had to work tirelessly to achieve publication as she wrote to Cassandra "I am never too busy to think of S & S. I can no more forget it, than a mother can forget her suckling child; ...I have had two proof sheets to correct, but the last only brings us to Willoughby's first appearance... I have scarcely a hope of its being out in June." This novel centering on the fortunes of the two Dashwood sisters, Elinor, private and sensible, Marianne, hopelessly and recklessly romantic, remains to this day a favourite of all Jane Austen fans, with its common theme that often runs through Jane's work that of a family of reduced means learning to mix in much wealthier society and how the differing personalities of her characters cope in these new
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
A story, now so famous that even non-Janeites will recognise the title, was written when Jane was only 20 years old. She initially named it 'First Impressions' which correctly describes its theme. The story of Elizabeth Bennet, pretty, lively and intelligent finally meeting her match in the handsome, proud Mr. Darcy. Initial prejudices by both characters towards each other prevent any form of romance until with time and understanding they realise their true feelings and past mistakes. In this novel Jane once more discusses the topics of pride of rank and fortune against self-respect which is all our heroine Elizabeth Bennet has in her defence, Jane was rightly proud of her creation "I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print...".On completion of the book in 1797 Jane 's father sent the manuscript to Cadell's publishers, it was immediately rejected - unread! It would not be published until 1813, after the successful publication of 'Sense & Sensibility'.
Pride & Prejudice has been described by Jane herself as "rather, too light, and bright and sparkling; it wants shade", her later novels would provide this.
After the publication of Pride & Prejudice, Jane wrote to her sister Cassandra, "Now I will try to write of something else, it shall be a complete change of subject: Ordination." and so 'Mansfield Park', her longest novel was envisaged. Written when Jane was 36, 'Mansfield Park' tells the story of the inexperienced and poor Fanny Price sent at a young age to live with her richer relations. This novel is often described as one of Jane Austen's most difficult reads, it is not light like 'Pride & Prejudice' and delves into the subjects of church, morality and adultery. The romances within the novel are often one-sided, wrong pairings and immoral. Fanny herself, the heroine, is quite a weak and timid character although with inner moral strength, she is the only character who does not err, we expect more from this heroine but are presented with a passive silent female. Jane Austen uses a great deal of symbolism within this story, characters behaviour earlier in the novel foretelling the paths taken later, an obvious sign of the more mature established novelist.
The opening lines of Jane Austen's 'Emma' leaves you in no doubt about the eponymous character of this novel, "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition....". Written in 1814 when Jane was 39, she described Emma as "A heroine whom no-one but myself will much like." This is a novel about a young lady who has no financial worries and no marriage expectations, in fact Emma could have remained unmarried, a path she admits to being on "I have none of the usual inducements of women to marry. Were I to fall in love, indeed, it would be a different thing! but I have never been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall." Yet having decided that marriage may not be for her she does not desist from the repeated match-making for her close friends. There is an additional theme in the book which describes the kindness and duty shown by Emma and her much less wealthy friend Miss. Bates towards their respective elderly parents. Jane was fully aware of the dependency certain members of a family had on others, her writing would have been less prolific without the practical support of her sister, and the financial support from her brothers. While writing 'Emma', it was suggested to Jane by a royal librarian that a dedication to the Prince Regent, the future King George IV, would be suitable, he being one of her many readers. Jane obliged knowing that it was beneficial for her sales but also galling due to as her personal dislike for the Prince. This was the last novel Jane would live to see in print.
A Jane Austen novel which is a homage to the gothic style of writing of her day. The story of the innocent country girl Catherine Morland, possessed of a vivid imagination which is further encouraged (incorrectly in the most part) by her introduction to society on a trip to Bath and from there to the 'gothic' estate of the Tilney family - Northanger Abbey. Jane entwines two themes, Catherine's experiences as a poor girl entering rich society and possibly finding a future marriage partner and a comical nod to the gothic mystery novels beloved by young girls of that time and her own writings; "And what are you reading Miss -?"" "Oh it is only a novel!". This is the shortest of Jane's novels and was the first to be completed in full in 1803, it would not be published until after her death.
Often described as the most romantic of Jane's novels, this love story, unlike her earlier writings does not tell of a young, inexperienced girl falling in love for the first time. This is the story of a 27 year old woman, Anne Elliot, whose chance at romance and happiness now seems a distant memory. Jane was 40 when she wrote this novel and it is apt that her heroine is one with life experiences and regret. In 'Persuasion' we meet a woman already in love, but forced to live a quiet sensible life with no second chance of romance, having been persuaded to break off her engagement to the dashing Captain Wentworth many years before. "All the privilege I claim for my own sex...., is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone." Some critics have commented that Jane wrote Anne Elliot's character to mirror her own, a wise spectator of life's absurdities and someone who sees through all pretence and bravado. If she was wanting to record a small part of herself then where better than within the lines of this brilliant, romantic novel.
Written during Jane's fallow writing period when the family moved to Bath in 1804. It tells the story of a young Emma Watson, who along with her sisters are required to marry well after the sudden and unexpected death of their father. The novel was abandoned by Jane after the death of her own father while residing in Bath, the novel and her own life sadly mirroring each other.
Written in 1793-4 when Jane was also writing her first draft of Sense & Sensibility, both originally written in the form of letters. Jane did not try to publish Lady Susan and it remained in its original form. It is the story of a beautiful and extremely flirtatious woman who at 35 years, then classed as middle-aged, schemes to ensnare her next husband and try to marry off her young daughter, without any thought for the feelings of others.
Due to Jane's early death, we will never know her full outline of this story. Today many writers have continued the story of Charlotte Heywood and her visit to the developing seaside resort of Sanditon. Jane was only to complete 11 chapters, her final line coming mid chapter "poor Mr. Hollis! It was impossible not to feel him hardly used: to be obliged to stand back in his own house and see the best place by the fire constantly occupied by Sir Henry Denham." It is believed that she ceased writing in March 1817, four months before her death.
These last three short works were printed together after Jane's death in her nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh's 'Memoir of Jane Austen' in 1871.
After Jane's death in 1817 Cassandra drew up a list of her works, to the best of her memory, in the order of when Jane had started to write them;
1796 - Pride & Prejudice (First Impressions)
1797 - Sense & Sensibility
1798/99 - Northanger Abbey
1804 - The Watsons
1811 - Mansfield Park
1814 - Emma
1815 - Persuasion
1817 - Sanditon - only completed 11 chapters.